Our sign in peace

Our sign in peace
Our sign in peace

Friday, June 23, 2017

Looking ahead...

With a little down time after a very busy Spring of work around here, two of my three jobs on Summer break, I am able to get some things done. It's never too early to work towards the Fall shows! I have been dyeing some merino wool that I had bought sometime back.

Separating and packaging them for felting kits and other things that I will be using the wool for. Merino is such a soft wool and felts incredible too!

So far, many small batts made in one dozen packs. Ready and packed away for Fall shows that you can never be too prepared for! Don't worry, there will be time for play! These were our best sellers in the Spring show so either way they will go fast!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

The good with the bad

This morning was a quick inspection to see where the hives are at. There was some good news and not so good news! Hive 1 has probably one of the best hives I have ever seen. If you loo, at this frame, you can observe every stage of the baby bee from an egg to larvae to capped brood.
Hive 2 does not have a queen. They had two queen cells 2 weeks ago but nothing today.

The frame above was added to hive 2 in an attempt to get them jump started.
Hive 3 was gone. That was the hive that pushed the queen out for her breeding ground flight a couple of weeks go. I believe the Queens are not making it back. We have so many birds nesting that I think they are feeding and picking off the Queens. I closed this hive down and will hope for a swarm call again.
And then hive 4, my swarm I collected back on Memorial Day, they are just amazing! The queen is doing an amazing job, the hive is flourishing and I am pleased!
So we continue our journey and see where it takes us with the bees!

Friday, June 9, 2017

Talk about perfect timing in the Apiary!!!

This morning I fired up the smoker and got ready for a day of inspections of all the hives.

I gathered all my tools and put aside the whole morning to fully look into each hive to see what was going on. I began with Hive number 1 who has an over achieving queen. I was so happy with all the brood, the workers had begun drawing out the second hive body but I did notice some trouble making, a few queen cells that I set aside in the event I may need them for one of the other hives. Hive number 2 was unsuccessful with the new queen so they have 2 queen cells that are now capped so they should have a new queen soon.

I jumped over to Hive 4 to check the swarm that was caught almost two weeks ago. I had checked them a week ago and I could not find the queen or see any evidence of her laying eggs but today bingo!!! I not only found the most amazing, fat queen!!! I quickly caught her and marked her.

This is the queen from Hive 4 being consoled by the workers after I marked her.

And then the most amazing sighting that you often only read in the bee books, the workers escorting a virgin queen out of the hive for her breeding flight! I was growing a bit concerned about this queen, it has been 9 days since she was released from her queen cage from the beekeeper that gifted two to me a couple weeks ago. They moved her out of the hive, then onto the hive stand and would not let her go back in.

This went on for quite sometime. I sat patiently and watched the interaction which I found fascinating.

They continued to coax her, nudging her along until they got her onto this rock and then...she flew off!!! As you can see the task was left to just a few bees as the rest of them went back into the hive to get back to work. I am just hoping she has a successful mating flight. As I was watching this a drone from another hive landed as almost anxious about mating with her and ending his life!

Monday, May 29, 2017

The Apiary gets gifts!

It just amazes me, the beekeeping world. If you want to meet wonderful people, then become a beekeeper! Always the most wonderful and generous folks who are willing to not only offer to help but to be kind enough to give in a time of need. Just a couple weeks ago I put out an appeal on Facebook that I was looking for a small swarm for the Nature Center I work at because our observation  hive had died. Within minutes I got a response from a man named Garrett and a small swarm was given  to get us up and going again. Over the weekend a beekeeper put up that he had Queens available. I quickly answered and picked up 2 healthy beautiful Queens! One was put into a split and the other was used to requeen a very lazy hive! These came from a man named Nicholas and his wonderful family. One of his children was busy saving and feeding drones while I was there! 

Then this morning I was off to pick up this amazing and quite large swarm! A man named Michael had it in his back yard, a former beekeeper and he quite graciously gifted it to me.

I loaded them into my swarm tote that I love to carry bees in. It's lightweight and easy to walk with.

I wasn't exactly ready for another hive but who could pass up such an amazing opportunity?! I lifted the branch gently out of the box and set it into the hive. There was also two frames that they had migrated on to. They marched off the branch quickly telling me the queen was in there.

Once I got them in there, I placed a feeder on top, filled it with some sugar water and closed them in. I left the branch in front of the hive for any stragglers who may land back on the branch and can also march into the hive. So the apiary is full once again on this wonderful Memorial Day. I take a moment to pause and thank those that fought so I might have the freedom to live how I choose.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Spinning Angora rabbit wool

There is just nothing like it, that feeling of Angora rabbit wool! It is by far one of the softest things on earth. I have managed to hoard countless bags of wool, even from rabbits I don't have any longer.

I love the way the little guard hairs refuse to be spun and hang off the yarn. Any items that you knit or crochet will be fluffy and soft. I am spinning these in 40 yard half skeins. I have a one yard knitty knotty so they are small and soft! Spinning Angora wool is a distress reliever!

Friday, May 19, 2017

When Alpacas attack!

Poor Tim got whacked by one of our Crazy Alpacas during shearing last week! His eye seems to have gotten worse before it's getting better!
Lesson learned here: never trust a Suri!!!

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Happy Mothers Day from Coon Hollow Farm!

Wishing all moms out there a very Happy Mothers Day from all of us at Coon Hollow Farm!!!

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Shearing Day is done!!

The crew knew something was up this day. As we awaited the shearer to arrive, we harnessed each one up, wormed them and waited. They've been through this before so they wanted out! 

The girls did well as usual...

I was able to get this funny expression of Norman looking quite concerned about his friends who were getting sheared...
And then we had the screamer!!! Awan always has to close with a little drama!
Now to get the fleeces sorted and figure out what to make with them!

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Making beeswax

Our new bees are doing incredible. One package is doing better than the other but I am convinced it is an over achiever! The bees are in over drive to set the hive up. This year I went with all brand new frames in black so I can see eggs and other happenings on the frames better.
If you look closely at this bee, she has was coming from her wax glands! The wax is made from glands that comes from their segments on their abdomens.

If you look really closely, you can see the wax protruding from their glands. They take this wax off their bodies, chew it up and construct their comb from this wax.

This picture shows one bee with wax. These bees never cease to amaze me and how they do everything from their little bodies. They make their food and their homes from what nature has provided them.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Connecticut Sheep and Wool Fest

The CT Sheep and Wool Festival was a lot of fun! It was busy and I enjoyed myself.

The fleece sale netted me a few fleeces. I especially loved the Lincoln fleece I got, the locks are amazing ans I have some great ideas for it.

A customer had this bag that I loved! Gave me some ideas and inspiration!

One thing I really was hoping to get was a one yard Niddy Noddy! Thankfully my friend Reggio showed up and did some shopping guide for me!!! 

Some of the treasures I got at the festival! Honeybee stitch markers and an Angora needle sorter! Overall the fair was fun and we were blessed with a beautiful day! Onto getting busy for the November show, I'm taking some time off for now!

Friday, April 28, 2017

We're heading to the Fair!

This Saturday, April 29, 2017 we're heading to the fair! The Connecticut Sheep and Wool Festival to be exact! We will have some handmade items... 

as well as some fiber supplies! Stop by our booth and see us! For more info visit their website below for directions and times of the ongoing events for the day!

Friday, April 21, 2017

Baby Buns!!!

The English Angora babies are getting so big! They are hiding in their nest so I can't see them. There is only 3 that survived. I have found that first time moms don't do great for their first litters. We have 2 fawns and 1 chestnut agouti like their Uncle Chester!

Eyes are finally open!!!

Look at how fat and healthy they are! Peachy has done a great job on these little ones! Maybe Peachy doesn't like being an angora but she is a great mom!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Apiary news

In this old picture of our Apiary, it was more peaceful times. Never having to worry about more than the normal concerns of beekeeping. The challenges are so much more than what they were over 20 years ago.

However, our biggest challenge now is a bear! Last year we lost all our hives to a bear. Just weeks after having two hives, then having family commitments that put us behind on installing the bear fence, once again he hits! Thank goodness we had hatchet straps on them. Those were some ticked off bees when I attempted to upright the hives.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Release of the Queens!!!

Yesterday I quickly suited up before dinner time and while the foragers were out and about. I was checking on the queens, to see if the workers had gotten them out of their queen cages. One was released but the other was still in hers. They had waxed the entire cage and sealed off any space they had to feed her! I used a screw I had in my pocket and went to releasing her into a queen marker cage. She gladly entered it.

I then marked her with a white dot! Even though this year queens should be marked with a yellow dot, I firmly refuse!!! Who in their right mind choose yellow for marking queens for this year?!!!! With all the pollen coming in, all the different shades of yellow, it's crazy to mark your queens yellow! I purchased a new white marking pen for this year and will mark them white. I refuse to conform to this madness!!!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Winning the egg battle!

It appears that we are winning the battle with our egg eating chicken!!! Each nesting box has a fake marble egg in it. Apparently our egg eater is not fond of pecking an egg that causes her to hurt her beak! Each nesting box had the same scene, one fake egg and many laid eggs all around it! We are finally back in business! We have eggs! I love easy solutions that don't involve getting rid of an animal or in this case a chicken!

Monday, April 10, 2017

Spring is for babies!

Peachy had a very long day today and she's a bit tired. She began pulling fur a couple of days ago so we knew it was soon. We moved her into a bigger cage, complete with a nesting box, her bed and litter box. We offered her some straw and other nesting materials and she made a beautiful nest.

I came home from work today and she gave birth to 6 little beauties! It looks like 4 BEW's and 2 broken Chocolates! She seems at ease and relaxed.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Bees and Babies!

Yesterday Tim picked up our bees, something he is not always too fond of! By the time I got home, it was cold and getting dark so tomorrow was another day.
We got the hives ready and prepared to hive them. A little spray of sugar water kept them calm and happy.

I pried the tops off to get to the queens.

Thankfully both queens were fine and healthy in the queen cages.

Once we were done, our granddaughter Scarlett, our son Timmy and her mom Sarah came to visit. This was Scarlett's first time now that she is older, where she can understand the animals. She quickly learned that she can feed them banana chips and she had a blast doing it!

One of our Alpacas, Norman actually let her pet him! He never lets anyone pet him!

He was so gentle with her, especially when she forgot to let go of the banana chip!

She even fed Maddie, one of our angora goats! Look how Norman is snuggling Scarlett! He was quite taken with her.

She was amazed by our chickens and Autumn too! We had some time connecting with nature. She got to feel the ground, a stick, a rock, a hickory shell. a white pine bow and a pinecone too! This kid may just be a nature girl after all!

And at the end of the day, the bees are inside, locked down and we are hoping no visits from the bear this year! We are planning to install an electric bear fence in a few weeks. Keeping our fingers crossed!!!